The South Dakota bill banning abortion has been reported out of committee.
I want to take this opporunity to point out one part of this story:
Opponents warned legislators that passing the measure would be a costly mistake. South Dakota will wind up in court, and the legal fees will be huge, they said, reminding state lawmakers that the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark 1973 ruling that abortion is legal.
The bill would not survive a constitutional challenge, opponents said.
Rep. Bill Peterson, R-Sioux Falls, acknowledged that the attorney general has estimated it would cost $500,000 to defend such a lawsuit. If the state would lose and have to pay attorneys on the other side, that could probably boost the expense for taxpayers at $1 million, he said.
"How much is the value of one human life?" Peterson asked, adding that he believes life begins at conception.
If the measure does nothing else, perhaps it will prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to finally define the beginning of life, Peterson said. If modern medicine and science can more definitely say that life begins much earlier than previously thought, many abortions can be prevented, he said.
Instead of passing the bill, Rep. Mel Olson, D-Mitchell, suggested that South Dakota press for a constitutional convention of states to decide if abortion should be banned.
Arguing against the bill, Olson said legislators should at least include a $1 million appropriation in the measure to cover the cost of a legal challenge. "If in fact we're serious about this, we should put our money where our mouth is."
Committee members rejected the proposal, which would have put a two-thirds vote requirement on the measure instead of a simple majority in both the House and Senate before it could be sent to Gov. Mike Rounds.
I'm not sure if the people raising the cost issue really expect to change people's minds. What I suspect they're after is an attempt to change this into an appropriations bill which apparently require a super majority.
However, if they really expect this to change people's mind, then they're barking (I hope) up the wrong tree. The people who support a ban on abortion do so because they believe abortion is murder. If that's the case, then it stands to reason that they believe it's worth the cost.
If it's the right thing to do, it doesn't matter the cost. If it's not right, the cost doesn't matter either.